Liv’s Tip of the Month – Winter Fuzz to Summer Slick

Liv Gude gives us some tips on transitioning from winter fuzz through the spring shed and on to summer slick.


Horses shed when the days start to get longer, which begins with the winter solstice around December 21st. Most horses hold on to their coats a bit longer to begin the shedding cycle in February. Here are a few ways you can be prepared to help this transition.

▪ Use specialized grooming tools, like shedding gloves. Please stay away from metal blades and hacksaw blades. These can damage the hair and skin, and definitely can’t be used on legs, faces, bony parts.

▪ Help your horse shed themselves by giving them ample opportunity to roll in sandy stuff.

▪ Bathe your horse when the temperature is comfortable and safe. This helps convince hairs to come out!

▪ Add products to make them shine a bit more as your help transition. Grooming oils are nice to condition dull coats, and sheen products help with slicking up hair coats.

▪ Remember that a horse’s hair coat is ALWAYS shedding and growing – it doesn’t just happen twice a year. This is why a bridle path needs constant touching up, and a horse will regrow hair that you have clipped for wound treatment or some other reason. Therefore, you CAN clip a shedding horse. His summer coat will come in even eventually!

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Tips and Tricks from the Best Show Jumping Grooms to the Greats

The warm-up ring of the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) is an incredible place to learn. Pull up a chair during a FEI class, and suddenly you have a front row seat to watch many of the top riders in the world at work behind-the-scenes.

Not only is the schooling ring a place to take in valuable riding lessons gleaned from the warm-up rides of the sport’s best showjumpers, it’s also where you can find and learn from many of show jumping’s top grooms, always on hand and attentive to their horses’ needs. So that’s just what we did. Our BarnManager team caught up with grooms from around the world to learn their tips and tricks, and now we’re bringing you insight from four of them!

Meet This Week’s All-Star Grooms


Denise Moriarty
– Originally from Ireland, for the last six years Denise Moriarty has groomed for U.S. Olympian Kent Farrington.

 


Tia Stenman
– For the last three and a half years, Finland native Tia Stenman has groomed for Torrey Pines Stable where she currently cares for the horses of the USA’s Spencer Smith.

 


Ninna Leonoff
– Ninna Leonoff has been a vital part of Markus Beerbaum’s team for more than 20 years after first moving from Finland to Germany to groom for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold medalist in the 90s.

 


Josie Eliasson
– A Gothenburg, Sweden native, Josie Eliasson has spent the last three and a half years grooming for the USA’s Jessica Springsteen at Springsteen’s Stone Hill Farm.

 

Q: What’s one thing that you don’t go to the ring without?

Denise: “A towel. You clean your horse; clean your rider. It’s the most useful piece of equipment.”

Tia: “A towel. Often it comes to the rescue for a lot of things.”

Ninna: “A towel.” (We’re sensing a theme!)

Josie: “A towel. It’s so handy for everything – for your rider, for the horse, for everything. It’s just very handy and such a simple thing.” (Okay, it’s unanimous!)

Q: What’s your favorite or the most rewarding part of the job?

Denise (pictured left): Seeing the horses do well in the ring.

Tia: I love my horses; they’re my hairy children. I love the travel. There’s nothing better than when you get to know the horse, and you kind of can read their mind. I couldn’t do it like in a factory way. For me, it’s really important that I know my horses and that I get to be with them as much as I can, because this is the only way I can be the best possible groom.

For sure the most rewarding is when your horses jump great; they perform great, and you see they’re happy. They’re not really made to do this, what we make them do, so when I can see that they actually like what they do – like this guy here [Theodore Manciais], when he jumps around with his ears up, and he’s excited and he feels good and he’s enjoying it – I love that. If I can keep them happy during all of these travels and crazy things that they go through that’s really important for me, and that’s satisfying.

Ninna: When the horses are feeling good; when they are looking good. That’s most important for me. I think these days, to keep them feeling good soundness wise is important and rewarding. I really like to get to know my horses. I like to spend time with them so I know how they feel. Even brushing I can feel if they have sore backs or they’re tired or fresh.

Josie: Just to be with the horses. To be able to travel the world and work with them on a daily basis is just a dream.

Q: What items do you use most often in the barn?

Denise: A broom. Our whiteboard is our go to for any changes that come. Brushes, and the washing machine!

Tia: A broom. I use a lot of lunge line because I’m not big; I’m not strong. I’d rather have a little bit more time to react if my horses are being silly; I don’t like to take stupid risks. A hoof pick. I always have that in my pocket, even when I go to my car. Show Sheen is great because I hate to pull through a tail, even if it’s clean.

Ninna: A pitchfork! The curry comb. That one I use a lot; I like it a lot. Saddle soap. Probably a broom.

Josie: The different brushes, the curry comb for example, I use a lot. Nothing compares to a really good brush of the horse. Cookies! We use a lot of cookies; our different horses like different kinds of cookies.

Q: What is one time saving and/or grooming tip that you would give?

Denise: Just being organized and having your day planned. Being organized is going to make it run a lot smoother and be a lot less stressful. I make surethat my boots are laid out, that my ring bag is packed for that horse, and that I know what bit or bridle or chain and everything that [Kent] wants on the horse so that I’m not last minute panicked trying to figure that stuff out.

Tia: Maybe it’s not time saving for everyone, but I always towel dry my whole horse. After I give them a bath, I do a quick towel dry of the whole body because then they dry faster. If I leave the upper body wet, and I only dry the legs, the water from the top goes back to the legs, so I do a quick towel dry because I don’t like them to be standing wet for hours.

Ninna (pictured right): What I normally do – let’s say now I go back from the ring. I take his tack off and put him back in his stall so he can pee and drink. In the meantime, I normally always clean the tack. Then I go wash him. That way everything stays nice and tidy. I don’t like anything that is on the floor or looks dirty. I like to keep things clean. I always try to stay organized right away so that everything looks nice.

Josie: It’s really good to have the horses used to getting this care. For example, after jumping, we wash them, and we put them in ice and put on the magnetic blanket. Then, if they’re good and used to it, they can stay for a little bit, tied up or not tied up, while you have time to clean tack or do other small things. That really saves time too. Instead of just sitting there watching and waiting, you can get things done.

But also, when they’ve been really good jumping for you, I often also do just want to give them the time to take care of them! I just love to curry them. It does so many good things. It helps them with the blood circulation and everything; it’s a kind of massage. Obviously, it gets them clean, and you spend time with your horse at the same time.

Photos by Jump Media

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – 3 Ways to Keep Warm at the Barn

Liv Gude kicks off our 2019 tips with three ways to stay warm at the barn this winter!

Number 1. Layer.

This cutie sent in by Jill Saccocia needs no layers!

Start with silk undergarments, then add layers upon layers!

I have the distinct honor, which comes with age I think, of not caring AT ALL how I look, especially at the barn.  I will take an extra long and extra wide scarf and wrap up my head, neck, and even part of my face to stay warm.  I will also add a hat on top of this to keep things secure and extra warm.  This was a total game changer and helps when you are walking into the wind.

I also have lined everything – gloves, socks, boots, breeches, jeans.  I tend to also go for dark colors, so that if the sun is shining, things get warmer faster.

Number 2. Move.

George Liberty sent us this handsome dude staying warm in the powder

Turning your horse’s “easy” exercise day into your “walk your butt off day” will keep you infinitely warm.  Instead of riding, go for a nice long handwalk.

You might be surprised how warm you will get by just moving your legs around.  Go for an hour or so for max horse and person effect.

Number 3. Heat.

Make a space that you can do chores in without freezing.  If your tack or feed room is drafty at best, get some window sealing plastic at the hardware store and start to button up.

Add a space heater (use only when supervised) and get your chores done in the warm.

Good Luck and stay toasty!

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Holiday Treats

What treats can your horse eat for the holidays?

First – think of this in terms of a tiny treat – like half of a peppermint – or something larger, like an extra flake of hay or an extra scoop of feed.  Then that treat has become part of his diet. The point is to make sure that “treats” don’t tip the balance of his forage and feed diet into the unnecessary calorie zone.  

You also don’t want to feed anything that will upset your horse’s stomach.  Smaller treats will help prevent this, as will treats that are similar to what he already eats.  Think about the horse who eats alfalfa/timothy blend hay. You could give him few hay cubes of the same combination.

Watch the sugar content of any treats, many horses with metabolic issues don’t need the sugars.  Carrots are surprisingly high in sugar. Peanuts in the shell are not, and make an ideal alternative.

 

Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Showing Your Horse Your Thanks

Cultivate a little gratitude for your horse!  It’s easy to show daily gratitude for our horses with a treat, a hand graze, extra scratches on the itchy spots.

 

But what about big picture stuff? Like saddle fit? The best diet formulated by an equine nutritionist? Regular bloodwork and soundness exams?

 

And bigger yet?  Retirement plans?  Finding a barn with bigger fields, larger stalls, more horse friends?  

 

Or you could go the opposite way – find gratitude in the little things – like trail rides? Days off?  Longer grooming sessions?

 

What’s your favorite way to show your horse some gratitude?

 

 Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Tips and Tricks from the Best Hunter Barn Managers in the Business! – Part Two

Our BarnManager team recently caught up with some of the best hunter barn managers in the business to learn their tips and tricks, and now we’re back with more insight from two women working hard in the saddle and behind the scenes to help their hunter operations run smoothly!

Meet This Week’s Managers

 

Karli Postel – Karli Postel rides and assistant trains for Archie Cox at Brookway Stables in California.

 
 

 

Cara Meade – Cara Meade manages for John and Stephanie Ingram, LLC, based out of Tennessee.

 

Q: What is one thing that you or your horses never go to the ring without?

Karli: The grooms never come without a backpack, and in the backpack there are back boots, hoof oil, brushes, hoof pick, and rags; they always have a whip in the backpack. They always have a little bit of boot polish in the backpack. Show Sheen, rubbing alcohol, and fly spray. The backpacks are heavy!

Cara: A towel. There are so many uses for a towel at the ring. Horses always need to be dusted off—legs, belly, sweat marks, green mouth, tack—and your rider’s boots can always have one last wipe-down. It can also be used on the jump or ground as a way to prep a spooky horse.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge of the job?

Karli: Orchestrating timing is probably the hardest, just because of the nature of our industry. Nothing generally runs specific to the laid-out time schedule, so you have to make your schedule but then be flexible within it. You have be able to recognize “Okay well this ring is running a little bit faster, and this ring is running a little bit slower,” so it’s going to work out a little differently than I had accounted for originally. I think if you’re not good at time management and you can’t be flexible within a schedule that you make, you’re going to have a hard time because you might get flustered.

Cara: Communication! Whether it’s with someone who speaks a different language or just simply how someone else translates the task, idea, or information you are trying to explain. Clear and consistent communication between all parties is always a good challenge.

Q: What’s your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

Karli: Using your resources and using your network. I see it all the time where people are at one ring and they’re like, “Well I need to check on the other ring, so I need to walkover there.” You have the resource of the gate guy. Go and ask him to radio over. He won’t mind as long as you aren’t rude and you wait until he has a convenient moment to do it; you’re saving yourself the trip. When we go to HITS Thermal where there are seven hunter rings, four jumper rings, and the barn is way far away, those 10 minutes that it takes you to walk from one ring to another are valuable. So I say definitely you need to use your resources. Sometimes getting the gate guy’s phone number is helpful. If you’re in the warm-up ring and can’t hear the count, it’s nice to be able to reach out to them personally.

I also like to keep my schedule on my phone so that I always have it on me, and I try to make sure that everyone has a schedule. Archie [Cox], myself, and then our head guy Carlos, just so that all three of us have an idea of what’s happening.

Cara: My time-saving trick is organization. I’m not naturally the most organized person, so the more organized I can be with all of the supplies I use each day, my thoughts, and the order of how tasks get done makes a big difference in how long the days take to get finished.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Karli: It’s so fun when you get to the weekend, and the clients come. You had your whole week and feel like you’ve done all the prep.When they go in and they have success, and they come out and they’re happy, that’s the most rewarding for me. Especially when it’s kid; I love the amateurs, but with the kids it’s really rewarding because you can really see it on their face when they’re so excited about winning. Even if they just went in and had a really good round, when they ride well it’s exciting!

Cara: The most rewarding part is seeing the horses perform well. There is SO much effort and detail that goes into getting each horse prepared exactly right to go to the ring. To see all of that effort pay off for horse and rider is definitely the most rewarding part.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip? And what five things do you use most in the barn?

Cara: My best grooming tip is to be organized as best you can. The more readily you can have all your grooming necessities and tack available the easier it will be to work quickly and efficiently.

I definitely use the dry-erase board; I wouldn’t make it through the day without it. A towel and some Pledge; there is never something that doesn’t need dusting. Scissors or a pocket knife, sunscreen, and tack soap.

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tip of the Month – Winter Coats

So what triggers your horse’s winter coat to come in? Your horse’s eyes and the summer solstice!
 
 
Every June, the solstice signals the start of summer. The days get progressively shorter. Your horse’s eyes slowly start to notice this…sending signals to his brain to start thinking about winter. Sure, he’s not going to start sprouting a new coat mid-July, but he’s noticing.
 
 
The primary stimulus for a horse’s shedding and coat growing cycle is sunlight! Very little of the temperature and blanketing situations has an influence on the hair growth cycle.
 

 Liv Gude, a former International Dressage Groom for years, founded proequinegrooms.com as a way to unite Grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Managing for McLain Ward: An Interview with Erica McKeever

On September 21, spectators and show jumping fans from around the globe watched as McLain Ward and Clinta delivered an incredible jump-off performance to anchor the U.S. team and clinch the USA’s first World Equestrian Games (WEG) team gold medal.

What most spectators did not see however, was Lee McKeever outside of the ring, overseeing every last detail of Clinta’s care or McKeever’s wife, Erica McKeever, coordinating all of the logistics involved with Ward and Clinta’s WEG appearance and managing the 30 additional horses back home at Castle Hill Farm in Brewster, NY.

Behind every great rider is an equally great barn and horse management team, and while they might not be the ones atop the podium, for the last 30 years, Erica and Lee McKeever have been an essential part of that team at Castle Hill.

With more than three decades spent overseeing horses at one of the top show jumping barns in the country, there are few with more ongoing, high-level barn management experience than the McKeevers, so we asked Erica to share more about her own management career!

Q: How did you get started at Castle Hill?

When I came to the U.S., I was working for Tim Grubb in New Jersey, and Brigette that was working for Tim’s barn brought me to Castle Hill during the horse show at Old Salem.

I first met Barney Ward that night. It just seemed like a really fun place. Everyone was hanging out together, and he called everybody his family several times while we were there. I felt like, “Whoa what a really neat place that is to work.”

Then I guess he must have called Brigette shortly after and said that he was looking for someone who could manage the show horses and go on the road with him. She asked me if I thought it was something that I was interested in doing. I said, “Oh I don’t think I could.” I had experience but not being in sole control of the horses. She said, “Well I think you could do it.” I did a trial, and we kind of hit it off right from the go. He was awesome. He taught me so much about horses and horsemanship. It was really special. I figured it out, and I never looked back.

I went on the road with him for a lot of years. McLain and Lee kind of went their way, and we went our way. I pretty much ran the show side of this barn. He had his managers at home, and that’s kind of how it started.

Q: You had your son, Bradlee, in 2002, and your daughter, Baylee, in 2004. How did your role at Castle Hill change after having kids?

I took care of Sapphire when we first got her. I’d just had Bradlee, so I tried to go on the road and still be a mom, and it actually was about virtually impossible. We had a fabulous babysitter who was with us from when Bradlee was six months old, so I tried to still go on the road and keep the same role, but it was really hard. I couldn’t do it.

Then I started to stay at home and run that side of it. Instead of having a bookkeeper or a secretary, I did it myself. I still tried to occasionally go with Sapphire. I still traveled to Florida, and I still tried to do the barn as well because that’s really important to me. That’s what I love to do. Then I had my second child, and it became very difficult to do it all. So, I stayed home, and I run things at home. It’s great because now there are so many horse shows, you constantly have horses getting ready for the next event, which makes it really exciting at home too.

Q: What’s a typical day like at home now?

I like to be home until my kids leave for school on the bus, and then I go to the barn. I usually do a couple of hours in the office. We do a plan for the day of what horses are going to be doing–who’s riding which horse, who needs clipping, who needs the vet. We plan all that early in the morning.

The key to this is to surround yourself with great people, and then it’s easy. If you have good people in the barn that you trust and are good at what they do, it makes our jobs really easy too. You have to find good people that really want to do this and love the animals.

Q: What do you think it takes to be a good barn manager?

I think you have to be responsible. You can’t leave it for someone else to do. You have to do it. I think managing is the perfect word – you have to pretty much manage everything from the help to the horses to the farrier. It’s a huge role, and it’s a huge responsibility. I love it because I like to be in control a little bit.

Organization is important. We have a plan in place because McLain’s a huge planner. The horses are planned where they’re going now through week 12 of Florida.

Again, I think the most important thing is that you have good people around you that care as much as we do, and they do this not for a job but because it’s what they love. We try to encourage the people to be a huge part of each and every horse. They all ride; they all take care of them. When McLain wins, we all win. Everybody contributes to that.

Q: What are the challenges of the job?

It can be a little stressful; sometimes it’s a little overwhelming because there’s always something going on,

Now my daughter shows. She does the ponies. That’s become stressful in itself! I feel like I’m managing a whole other operation; I don’t know what’s going to happen when she’s doing the equitation! I just spent some time at the [ASPCA Maclay] Regionals last week, and that looks more stressful than ever. We just did the world championships, and that didn’t seem as stressful as some of those kids!

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working for Castle Hill?

The family aspect. To be appreciated by McLain as much as he does. It’s so special the way he involves our children in the whole thing – his father was the same. It was always about family. McLain’s really, really kept up with that. I would think he would make his dad very proud with how he is. I think giving the appreciation to the people around him, that’s huge for everybody. Not just for me, but for my husband, and Virginie [Casterman] who took care of Clinta at WEG. That’s so important to be appreciated.

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Tips and Tricks from the Best Hunter Barn Managers in the Business! – Part One

The Capital Challenge Horse Show attracts the best hunter horses and riders in the country – and in turn, the best hunter barn managers! While at the show, we caught up with several of them to learn their tips and tricks and the challenges and rewards of their jobs. Now, we’re sharing their feedback in a two-part series of blog posts!

Meet This Week’s Managers

 

Kassie Gustafson – Kassie Gustafson manages for Hunt Tosh Inc., based out of Alpharetta, GA.

 
 

 

Molly Sewell Schott – Molly Sewell Schott is a rider and assistant trainer at Over the Hill Farm in Sanford, FL, where she has worked with Bill Schaub for the last 17 years.

 

 

Kate Wood – Kate Wood has managed for Liza Boyd at Finally Farm in Camden, SC, for almost two years.

 

Q: What’s the biggest challenge of the job?

Kassie: At a show, I’d say just communicating. Making sure that all of the pieces are working together – whether you’re getting horses to the ring or you’re in a situation where you have a lot of clients. It really just depends on that – getting your whole team to work together. If you’re at home, not at a horse show situation, I would actually say pretty much the same thing: just making sure that everyone is communicating. There are a lot of moving pieces that make a barn run efficiently. Being able to manage all of that is probably the trickiest part.

Molly: For me, I think my challenge is juggling multiple roles. I ride and also manage the grooms and the horses. That’s the hardest thing. I’d also say, making sure that communication is good between all of us.

Kate: Keeping all of the pieces moving; making sure that if there are lessons for the day that need to get done, that they’re getting lined up in between showing – just trying to make sure that the day runs as efficiently as possible. It’s really hard to do, because you’ve got horses showing in the ring, and you’re trying to get other lessons put together. The time management is really the big thing.

Q: What’s your biggest time-saving trick in the barn?

Kassie: I’m a huge multi-tasker. At the end of the day when you have a tack hook full of bridles, tack cleaning takes up a lot of time. So, any little stuff you can do throughout the day – like tack cleaning, those little types of things – they really help.

If people ask me, “What can I do to help you?” I hand them a pile of polo wraps to roll. Hunt’s daughter, [Maddie Tosh] is great. She always helps us in the barn. I call her my little secretary because she is just fabulous. You don’t realize how much it helps you when someone can do those kinds of little things for you. It allows you to have that time to do something else that you need to. Keeping up with the little things like cleaning tack and rolling polos throughout the day makes a difference.

Molly: I like to make sure that everything is organized when I close up shop every day. It saves time in the morning. I would rather stay at the barn later and then have everything smooth and efficient in the mornings, as far as tack being perfectly organized and that sort of stuff.
I like everything to be done the night before because you have very limited hours in the morning. When I get to the barn, I want to be able to pull every piece of tack out of the trunk and have it exactly where it needs to be before everyone starts riding. I even pack the trunk at night based on what we’re doing first, so I’ll put the schooling bridles on the top so that we can just get them out and get the horses out the door and to the ring. That’s probably my biggest time-saving thing as far as being organized.

Kate: Just really overcommunicating – even if you repeat yourself five times. Making sure that everyone knows the game plan; writing everything down. Liza and I don’t leave the barn before we go over the board together and make sure that Jack [Towell] is clued in on what the morning is bringing. We just like to have a good game plan before we leave that day.

Q: What item or items do you use most in the barn?

Kassie: Anything I post for them I always hashtag #ShapleysSavesLives because it does. We’re a huge fan of Shapley’s products. Whether it’s the High Gloss, the Spray Paint, whatever – we’re huge fans. We use a lot of MagnaPaste for hoof packing.

Molly: Venice turpentine – at least that’s what I’m always buying! It’s for their feet; we’re always making sure their feet are comfortable because that’s the most important part. If you don’t have any feet, you don’t have any horse.

Kate: We love our Seashore Acres products. We use a ton of that stuff for scratches and for fly spray. I also have to say our rubber jump poles. They’re safer than regular jump poles; if you want your horse to land a little further out off a jump, you can place them on the ground. If they land on those, it’s a lot safer than if they were to land on a wooden pole. And again, our radios. Our radios are very important to us.

Q: What is one thing that you or your horses never go to the ring without?

Kassie: I never go anywhere without my backpack. I always say that it’s full of my magic tricks. I always have a hoof pick and a tail brush. We take all of our horses up with a chain lead shank. It makes it easier to hold them while they’re getting ready. I’m a really big fan of the baby oil that’s a gel; it’s super easy to carry in a backpack. You don’t have to worry about it spilling or anything like that. Baby powder of course, hoof oil, all the basic stuff. I have a kit of makeup that I take with me, in case we need it for any touch-ups. You never know what’s going to happen!

Molly: Our horses and ponies are very spoiled; they definitely never go to the ring without peppermints! Then our grooms all have their essentials like hoof picks, fly spray, and towels in the backpack that goes to the ring with each horse.

Kate: My radio. That’s how we survive. And normally my hat and my boots just in case!

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Kassie: Any time that a horse goes well – especially if it’s one that I had to get ready in the morning. With Hunt’s farm, I love seeing Maddy do well because they’re such a close family, and they’re all so dedicated. They put so much into it. The whole family gives 150 percent every single day. That’s wonderful to be a part of.

Molly: I think the most rewarding part of my job is of course going in and showing – that’s my favorite thing and my passion. But it’s also so rewarding when the ponies and horses go to the ring and they’re prepared beautifully – when they’re perfectly tuned and schooled and yet they’re also gorgeous to look at. It’s very satisfying to see them all braided up; they go to the ring and do their job and then they’re champion our reserve.

Kate: I really love when the horses go in and do their job and everyone is happy. I like it when the horses are happy most of all. That’s the most fun for me, preparing the horses and then watching them go in the ring.

Q: What’s your best grooming tip?

Kassie: Fly spray. I use the wipe and spray. It is phenomenal. If you put it on their hooves instead of hoof oil, the footing doesn’t stick to it. I’m a huge fan of that. You can fix anything with some fly spray – brush it into their coat, wipe off the dust – fly spray is my go-to trick for sure!

Molly: I would say our biggest, best grooming tip would be for the wintertime when we do body clipping. We always clip our horses if they start getting the slightest bit of hair on them because we find that if you clip them when their hair is shorter, they keep their color longer. If you let the hair grow out long, they lose all their color.

Kate: I think just being aware of the details, not just with the horse being turned out well, but making sure that they don’t have fungus; making sure that their coats look good, they don’t have hives or bumps. It pays off to just pay close attention and know your horses.

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